LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network Podcast, 07/05/16, with Daniella Whyte

This is the Urban Christian News Network podcast. Thank you for joining us on this Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Here are the top 10 news stories for today.

1. According to the Christian Post, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has warned in an Independence Day reflection that America is suffering from a “deep crisis of the soul,” facing the “death of morality” and sliding into a future with no truth or reason. “Whatever happened to the American soul? We are truly at the cliff’s precipitous edge and the fall could be long and deadly. Why? We have a deep crisis of the soul that is killing us morally and we have no recourse,” Zacharias wrote in a blog post on his website. The Indian-born, Canadian-American apologist warned of the “death of morality, the death of truth; then we come to the last, the death of reason.”

2. According to the Christian Post, a human rights group has warned that minorities in Iraq, including Christians, are facing a “catastrophic” reality with tens of thousands of people murdered or abducted by terror groups. “The impact on minorities has been catastrophic. Saddam [Hussein] was terrible; the situation since is worse. Tens of thousands of minorities have been killed and millions have fled for their lives,” said Mark Lattimer, head of Minority Rights Group, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

3. According to China Aid, authorities in China’s coastal Zhejiang province recently demanded that some churches hand all their income, including donations, to the government as part of a movement to implement more official regulations. Since last year, the Chinese government has been pressuring churches to implement the “five transformations,” which consist of “localizing religion (through adopting local architectural styles for church buildings), standardizing management, indigenizing theology (by contextualizing sermons), financial transparency and adapting Christian teachings,” in order to mold Christianity into an institution that reflects the objectives of the Communist Party. As a result, the government established office spaces within churches and assigned officials to closely regulate them.

4. According to OneNewsNow, a religious-based human rights group says Christians living outside Iraq and Syria are concerned that the violence perpetrated by ISIS could spread. Those concerns were elevated June 27 as four suicide bombers blew themselves up in a Christian village in Lebanon along the Syrian-Lebanese border. At least five people were said to be killed with more than a dozen injured in an attack likely caused by ISIS terrorists. Will Stark of International Christian Concern says ISIS appears to be changing tactics in the Middle East after recently losing control of Fallujah. The fear, he says, is that ISIS is spreading out in the region to become more a terrorist network rather than a military-like operation.

5. According to Religion News Service, a South African cardinal who recently rejected calls for the Catholic Church to apologize to gay people has said the abortion rate among black women in the U.S. is “a genocide” and added: “Isn’t this something we should be apologizing for?” In a series of tweets late Friday (July 1), Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban cited Guttmacher Institute estimates that there have been more than 57 million abortions in the U.S. since the Supreme Court legalized abortion legalized in 1973.

6. According to Religion News Service, across the United States, churches are joining with social-change organizations such as the American Friends Service Committee, the Children’s Defense Fund and Kids4Peace to use summer breaks to teach children and youth about the civil rights movement and how they might be part of its renewal. It reflects a wider trend in secular summer camping, as almost half of American Camp Association accredited camps focus on civic engagement or service learning.

7. According to NBC News, the FBI won’t recommend charges in the Hillary Clinton email server investigation, agency chief James Comey announced Tuesday. “No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey told reporters. Federal investigators did not find evidence of intentional wrongdoing, he said — but there is evidence the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and her staff were “extremely careless” during her tenure as secretary of state.

8. According to the Associated Press, a Noah’s Ark attraction built by Christians who say the biblical story really happened is ready to open in Kentucky. The long-awaited theme park based on the story of a man who got a warning from God about a worldwide flood will debut in central Kentucky this week. The Christian group behind the 510 foot-long wooden ark says it will demonstrate that the stories of the Bible are true.

9. According to Catholic News Service, Pope Francis said he will continue pressing for a church that is open and understanding despite opposition from some clerics who “say no to everything.” “They do their work and I do mine,” the pope said when asked, “What is your relationship with ultraconservatives in the church?” “I want a church that is open, understanding, that accompanies families who are hurting,” Pope Francis said. Some church leaders do not agree with his approach, but “I continue my course without looking over my shoulder,” he said, adding that he does not try to silence them. “I don’t cut off heads. I’ve never liked doing that.” Besides, he said, he’s the pope. “You remove nails by putting pressure on the top. Or you set them aside to rest when they reach retirement age.”

10. According to the Washington Post, “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel,” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in a joint news conference in Kenya’s capital on Tuesday. The occasion marked the first official visit of an Israeli premier to sub-Saharan Africa in 30 years. Netanyahu, who arrived in neighboring Uganda on Monday, will also visit Rwanda and Ethiopia over the next three days.

That’s all for today. You can read these stories and more online at

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. He loves you so much that the Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, why don’t you get to know Him today. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose by the power of God for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks for listening. May God bless your day.